Fauci hints at retirement: 'I can't stay at this job forever'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, hinted at plans to retire in the near future as long as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain low.

“I have said that I would stay in what I’m doing until we get out of the pandemic phase, and I think we might be there already, if we can stay in this,” Fauci said on Friday’s episode of the ABC News podcast Start Here.

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At 81 years old, Fauci has served as a public health expert in various capacities for more than 50 years and has advised every president since Ronald Reagan. He currently holds the post of chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and has been a public fixture since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

“I can’t stay at this job forever. Unless my staff is going to find me slumped over my desk one day. I’d rather not do that,” he said.

Fauci only hinted at his retirement, stopping short of saying when his time in the White House and as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would come to an end. However, his comments come shortly after an announcement from Biden that his COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, would be stepping down next month to be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.

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Fauci has drawn harsh criticism from many lawmakers, especially from Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, for having an outsize influence on the scientific community’s communication and thinking about the virus. For instance, Paul said in January that his nemesis was a “central planner” out to silence dissenting opinions about the effectiveness of certain mitigation measures such as lockdowns and school closures. He also introduced an amendment on Monday proposing the elimination of Fauci’s role as the director of the NIAID and the creation of three new institutes to replace it. Republicans have also accused Fauci of shutting down inquiries into the possibility that the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.

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